Like Goldilocks, too late for the 2013 World Science Festival and too early the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival

The 2013 World Science Festival in New York City just ended yesterday (June 2, 2013) and the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival is scheduled, for  a date approximately 10 months from now, April 26 – 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Congratulations to the 2013 World Science Festival organizers as they have sold out most of their shows for this year’s extravaganza. Fear not, there’s still a way to enjoy the 2013 festival’s main event in June and some of its other events during the year: read the event summaries and preview on the festival blog. There’s this June 2, 2013 summary by Julian Taub in a posting titled, Small Wonder: Imagine the Medical Miracles of Nanotechnology,

What is it like to be on the nanoscale, the size thousands of times thinner than a human hair?

This is what an esteemed panel, moderated by Robert Krulwich, focused on throughout Cellular Surgeons: The New Era of Nanomedicine. [emphasis mine] Peter Hoffman, a panelist who wrote a book on molecular machines making order from chaos, tried to paint a picture of a very different world. Imagine a place where gravity is a non-issue and you are constantly bombarded by high-speed particles coming from random directions. …


Now, scientists are trying to design their own molecular machines. How are they going to keep up with millions of years of evolution that created the machines inside our body? Metin Sitti, a professor at Carnegie Melon who works on medical nanorobots explained, “As human beings, we are now going beyond nature, as engineers, as scientists. We don’t have the same constraints it has. We have the luxury and knowledge to play with these systems.”

Sitti presented one of his creations to the panel: a robot that rolls around in a patient who swallows it, capable of performing tissue biopsies and dispensing drugs at will. The robot rolls around the stomach, controlled by a magnet from outside the body. Sitti and his team came up with the soft, biodegradable body for the robot to make it more comfortable to use. Right now they are testing the bots on pigs.

Another panelist, Harvard biomedical professor and entrepreneur Omid Farokhzad, created a nanoparticle that carries drugs and attaches to specific receptors on a tumor’s surface. The tumor then engulfs it, in Trojan Horse style, and meets its demise. The particle also disguises itself from the immune system by coating itself with water. As it journeys through your body, it veers toward tumors by sensing their leaky blood vessels.

Then, there’s this Nov. 16, 2013 preview of one of the festival’s other event series, Oliver Sacks—The Justin Bieber of Neurologists,

“The Justin Bieber of Neurologists”—that’s how NPR’s John Hockenberry, noting that the World Science Festival program, “Hallucinations with Oliver Sacks,” had sold out in a matter of hours, described the celebrated doctor and best-selling author.  Their conversation at The Cooper Union on Friday, November 9, was both humorous and compelling, and marked the debut of Sacks’ new book, Hallucinations.  The evening also kicked off the Festival’s new year-round series, Science & Story.

Sacks, renowned for investigating the odd workings of the human mind, described vivid accounts of people who see, hear, smell, even feel things that aren’t actually there. “You think it’s real but other people don’t agree with you,” Sacks explained.

Sacks has said that he regards everything he writes as being at “the intersection of the first and third person, biography and autobiography.”

The USA Science and Engineering Festival is a biannual event and the third festival debuts in April 2014. Here’s a bit of information about festival sponsor, Lockheed Martin and the festival’s beginnings, from the organization’s Dec. 5, 2012 news release,

The Festival is a signature program for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company that employs nearly 60,000 engineers, scientists, and technologists worldwide. The company co-founded the festival in 2010, helped expand the program in 2012, and serves as the founding and presenting host again in 2014.
“Lockheed Martin is a national leader in promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in our education system,” said high-tech serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and festival co-founder. “Thanks tothe leadership of Lockheed Martin and other sponsors, the festival provides students direct exposure to the most innovative employers in the field. It also allows prospective employers to demonstrate the coolest engineering and technology applications to young people firsthand, getting them excited to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.”
More than 500,000 people attended 2012 festival events, with over 250,000 attending the 3-day Finale Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, making it the second most attended event in the convention center’s history.

Here are the plans announced in the Dec. 2012 news release,

Festival highlights leading up to the Finale Expo in April 2014 include:
Lockheed Martin returns as presenting host sponsor
New website featuring “Role Models in Science & Engineering,” with a current focus on women and minorities
 Facebook page with more than 35,000 fans and approximately 500 new fans each day
 Throughout 2013 and early 2014:
 Lunch with a Laureate program connecting students with Nobel Prize winning scientists
 Nifty Fifty (times 3) speaker program offering more than 150 leading scientists and engineers to speak in schools, with sessions videotaped for use in classrooms worldwide
 Hundreds of satellite and affiliate events across the country
In April 2014 during the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC:
 Nifty Fifty All Star Symposium, VIP Event and student Sneak Peek on April 24 – 25, 2014
 Finale Expo open to the public April 26 – 27, 2014, with 750+ exhibiting organizations

As always, many thanks to David Bruggeman whose May 31, 2013 posting on his Pasco Phronesis blog brought the two festivals to my attention,

The World Science Festival started on Wednesday [May 29, 2013] in New York City.  While the USA Science and Engineering Festival is growing, the World Science Festival is likely the biggest annual science festival (in scope, if not in numbers) in the U.S.  (At a minimum, the World Science Festival is definitely more all-ages than it’s younger cousin in D.C.)

There is the Science Rendezvous festival here in Canada, an event I described as peculiarly Canadian in my May 10, 2013 posting. It seems of an entirely different order than these two in the US.

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